Stimulants and sudden death: What is a physician to do?

Clinical Research Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.3). 10/2006; 118(3):1215-9. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2006-0942
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Recently, a US Food and Drug Administration advisory committee raised concerns about cardiovascular risks and sudden death in children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder who are receiving stimulants.
We comment on the risk of sudden death in children/adolescents taking stimulants compared with population rates, biological plausibility, and known cardiovascular effects of stimulants to determine specific risk.
There does not seem to be higher risk of sudden death in stimulant-treated individuals compared with the general population. Although there is evidence of biological plausibility, the known effects of the stimulants on cardiovascular electrophysiology and vital signs seem to be benign.
There does not seem to be compelling findings of a medication-specific risk necessitating changes in our stimulant treatment of children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The use of existing guidelines on the use of stimulants (and psychotropic agents) may identify children, adolescents, and adults who are vulnerable to sudden death.

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